Review of The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6

December 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Year's Top Short SF Novels 6The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6
Edited by Allan Kaster; Narrated by Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari
16 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Publication Date: December 2016
Themes: / Science Fiction / Novellas / The Moon / Time / Clones / Starships /

The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6, edited by Allan Kaster, is an audio anthology containing five science fiction novellas from 2015. It’s a diverse, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection, and very well narrated!

Inhuman Garbage by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I’ve enjoyed Rusch’s Disappeared series since the first novella was published (The Retrieval Artist, 2000). I haven’t the time to keep up with all the novels Rusch has written in the series since but every one I have read has been excellent, including this short one. In a warehouse in a city on the Moon in Rusch’s robust future world, a body has been discovered in a recycling crate. Detective Noelle DeRicci is called in on the case. The story is a perfect blend of SF and mystery fiction.

What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu (translated by Ken Liu)
This was an interesting thought experiment. We humans live our lives in a linear fashion, cause preceding effect after effect after effect. The story attempts to portray people living linearly, but in reverse. We see history passing backwards as characters live their lives. Interesting.

The New Mother by Eugene Fischer
Imagine a disease with an effect that allows women to reproduce without men. Offspring are clones, since the genetic material has only one source. Men are no longer part of the process. The idea of men becoming extinct brings past stories to mind, like James Tiptree Jr’s “The Screwfly Solution”. The New Mother is a story that leaves the listener with a lot to think about.

Gypsy by Carter Scholz
I was fascinated by this story about a group of people that decide to take it upon themselves to build a ship, get aboard, and launch to Alpha Centauri. The story is told by various characters who wake up from their long sleeps to do various tasks. How did such a group pull this off? And how far can the group get? Well-written, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
There is a lot going on in this novella, the longest in the collection. A rich and interesting culture. Mindships, where minds are installed in and control ships. Uploaded minds of previous emperors that serve as advisors to the current emperor. Terrific. Just a beautiful story.

This anthology is also available as an ebook.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Legion by Brandon Sanderson

July 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Legion by Brandon SandersonLegion
By Brandon Sanderson; Read by Oliver Wyman
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 2 discs; 2 hours

Themes: / fantasy / magic / hallucinations / special powers / novella /

Publisher summary:

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson reveals a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith. Resonant, intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing, Legion is a provocative entertainment from a writer of great originality and seemingly limitless gifts.

Legion is a short, interesting, 2-disc novella by Brandon Sanderson about a man with a unique mental disorder that allows him to do extraordinary things. Sanderson develops some fun characters, interesting abilities (of course this is typical for him), and drops them in a mysterious adventure. My only real complaint about this novella is that I wish there was more.

Those familiar with Sanderson’s style know to expect a unique magic/ability system that leads to an interesting plot. In this case, Stephen Leeds has many hallucinations that all serve as experts in some way that is useful to him such as weapons, knowledge, psychology, etc. People come to Stephen with problems and he can serve as a team of experts to solve whatever case/mystery needed. The trick is that only he can see these hallucinations (think A Beautiful Mind) which can lead to some interesting conversations.

Oliver Wyman does a great job narrating this novella. He did a great job with all the voices and accents from the novella. He does a great vocal equivalent of a skeptical look when characters are dealing with someone talking to hallucinations. I would listen to books narrated by Oliver Wyman again.

Posted by Tom Schreck

The Coode Street Podcast talks novellas

May 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Notes From Coode StreetWhat is ‘Notes from Coode Street’?  No, it’s not a superhero from Southpark, but a podcast where two sf editors, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan, talk books.  In episode #52, they talk with the editor of Locus, Liza Trombi.  At around time 21:30, I got interested in this conversation about novellas.  Are novellas the ideal length for an author to try out an idea?  But are novels the ideal length for readers?  It almost makes want to give up novels and try novellas (about 100 pages) for a while.

Here’s the direct link to the |MP3|

Posted by Tamahome

Review of Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury

August 21, 2008 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Now and Forever by Ray BradburyNow and Forever
By Ray Bradbury; Read by Paul Hecht
4 CDs – 4.75 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781428198258
Themes: / Fantasy / Collection / Novella / Small town / Nostalgia / Starship / Aliens / Telepathy /

In some ways the most interesting part of the two novellas that make up this book are Ray Bradbury’s introductions. He explains that both “Somewhere the Band is Playing” and “Leviathan ‘99” have their origins in his long ago days as a Hollywood screenwriter. These explanations hang on in the listener’s mind and provide insights and color for the stories that follow.

“Somewhere the Band is Playing” evokes the memories of the idyllic towns that Bradbury loves to write about, a la “Mars is Heaven” in The Martian Chronicles. One wonders if this bucolic turn-of-the-20th-century setting has its roots in his own youth in Waukegan, Illinois. The story is told by James Cardiff, a reporter who awakens one morning mysteriously drawn to Summerton, Arizona, which does not appear on the map although the train stops there. As he explores the town he finds it is full of mysteries that seemingly defy explanation such as adult inhabitants, but no children; a graveyard, but no dates of death on the tombstones. This story gently invites the listener to consider questions of immortality, paradise, and the consequences of our choices.

Moby Dick was the inspiration for “Leviathan ‘99”. In Bradbury’s tale, the white whale has become a huge comet, Ishmael is a young astronaut, Queequeg is a mind-reading alien, and Captain Ahab a nameless starship captain who is madly pursuing his nemesis after their original encounter left him blind. Ray Bradbury is known for his love of words which comes through strongly in in the Shakespearean-like soliloquies through which The Captain shows his descent into madness. I especially liked the use of Quell the mind-reader to show us The Captain’s true frame of mind when he was elsewhere. Even the reader who has barely a speaking acquaintance with Moby Dick will appreciate the parallels that Bradbury employs and thrill to the question of how he will choose to end the story.

Neither of these stories has the depth of Ray Bradbury’s great works such as Something Evil This Way Comes or Fahrenheit 451. However, they are novellas and perhaps it may be better to compare them to his short stories. On a first listening, they left me rather flat, wondering, “Is that all there is?” However, further contemplation made it obvious that there is a common theme of man’s blindness, the wonders that are just within reach, and the consequences of our choices. I would not recommend these as a first outing for someone who hasn’t read Bradbury before but to the reader who already appreciates this author, they have much to recommend them.

Paul Hecht’s narration is perfect and his ability to voice characters is exceptional. It is a mystery to me how such a deep voice can portray a woman so well without using falsetto or sounding ridiculous but Hecht does it with little effort. His characters spring to life within the listener’s mind and add depth to the story.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy Ray Bradbury’s writing.

Posted by Julie D.

ed. – This is our first review of an audiobook from the new Sci-Fi imprint from Recorded Books. Click here for a look of what’s coming up from this imprint, which is shaping up to be a fine selection from the literary end of science fiction and fantasy.